We ask a lot of our back. It’s supposed to bend, lift, twist, and support all of our organs without pain or discomfort and in the case of athletic endeavors, it all should be done with gusto. It’s not supposed to age either. Most of us have felt the effects of a malfunctioning back and we know instinctively that we could do more to optimize its performance.
Many doctors define spinal health as the absence of disease or fracture, but that’s like describing the perfect marriage as the absence of divorce. I’m talking a whole different animal. True spinal health is the ability to perform the motions of daily life with minimal discomfort—including motion associated with exercise, strenuous work, just after waking up and even after sitting in a cubicle all day.
I’m sure you know someone who suffers from back pain, after all, one half of Americans (women more than men) experience back pain each year. Other than colds or flu, it’s the major reason they go to the doctor. Considering its impact, it’s surprising that all we really get from the media or medical doctors are vague truisms suggesting that we exercise more and lift correctly—as if we hadn’t thought of that before!
The most popular medical approach is to drug our spines into submission, but there is no drug that can actually improve joint function. Anti-inflammatory drugs may temporarily decrease inflammation and pain, but do nothing to repair damage. In fact, these drugs decrease blood flow and SLOW the healing time of muscles, tendons, bones and cartilage up to fifty percent. And when you get back to working out, they slow muscle growth. Add to that the predictable intestinal damage and we can safely say this is not the way to go.
What To Do?
What can you do to actually improve function and healing? Well… treat the cause! Spinal injuries are problems with biological structures that have a mechanical function. Joints are malleable, plastic-like structures containing a very slippery substance (four times slipperier than anything man-made) called Lubricin, that may need help to be healthy, even with light exercising or prolonged computer work. Even stress can slow healing.
Motion, as it happens, is the secret here. That’s why saying “Sitting is the New Smoking” (last month’s article) makes sense when we have pain without a specific injury. Without correct and frequent motion the spine will degrade in short order. If we don’t move enough after a back strain or injury, scarring and adhesions will occur that make a full recovery impossible. Too much physical work or exercise after injury will increase the damage. Therefore, proper motion (corrected with Chiropractic) is required to direct the healing of the joint structures in such a way as to strengthen the joint and allow normal function.
When the spine is injured, the nerves associated with the area of injury (and the brain) change in a way that can disrupt the function of parts of your body that are far away from the location of the injury. For instance, scientific studies show that neck problems can lead to elbow motion restriction, and chiropractic adjustments to the neck will return the elbow to normal. This is an example of a new field of research that studies neurological (sensory-motor) relationships. These findings help to clarify the mechanisms we’ve observed over and over again—relief of pain and increased physical performance following spinal manipulation. Recent studies also show that spinal adjustments can decrease blood pressure, soothe the effects of stress hormones and help boost immunity.
At our clinic, we know that the best way to help those with back pain is to use as many scientific, cutting-edge techniques as possible to decrease pain, speed healing and increase performance; whether it’s to clean out your sock drawer or landing a snowboard “Rusty Trombone” on the slopes. Our incredible doctors have years of experience and look forward to serving you and your family.
Dr. Davis and Dr. Linzey in Walnut Creek have been serving individuals with chronic pain for 30 years. For information about how you can get a free consultation, call (925) 279-4324 (HEAL). Visit us at WalnutCreekHealth.com